I want to be bi-partisan, but most of the time the Republicans don’t help.
I had some hope for new Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu of Oostburg. In his first significant move after taking the reins from Scott Fitzgerald, who moved on to Congress, LeMaheiu engineered a sensible compromise to a COVID relief bill that Gov. Tony Evers said he would sign.
But that bill is now back in the Assembly where GOP hardliners are more interested in playing to the conspiracy theorists in their own base than in doing anything to save lives.
And LeMahieu dimmed hope that he might be an improvement on Fitzgerald when he jumped in with both feet in support of the irresponsible move by Republicans to block Evers’ statewide mask requirement. On the senate floor on Tuesday he said that voting to end the mandate was, “a blow for liberty and the rule of law.”
No, it wasn’t. It was a blow for the prison of a ventilator and the rule of the jungle.
And this comes as we’ve recently passed a half million Wisconsinites who have been diagnosed with COVID, almost 24,000 hospitalizations and over 5,700 deaths from the virus. To make matters worse, new strains are now circulating, some of which are reported to be 70% more infectious.
Responsible public health officials, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, are now recommending that we wear another layer of mask. And, so, what did the Republicans do? Eliminate the order to wear at least one. This is insanity.
The joint resolution to overturn the mask requirement has been scheduled for a vote in the Assembly tomorrow, Thursday. While Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is not a sponsor of the bill, he would not have scheduled it if it wasn’t going to pass. A resolution doesn’t require the governor’s signature, so the mandate will almost certainly be reversed. (Local mask mandates can remain in effect, but research strongly suggests that viruses don’t respect municipal boundaries.)
Not every Republican is this bad. Credit state senators Rob Cowles of Green Bay and Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield for siding with the Democrats against the mask repeal. And at the national level, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined Democrats in voting to move forward with the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Ten brave Republicans in the House voted for the article of impeachment.
I’m somewhat encouraged that there have been even those few defections from the right-wing populism of the party of Trump. But unfortunately it still is just that. And just as Trump made literal bankruptcy a habit, his party is making moral bankruptcy its stock in trade.